Last week, I read this article: http://www.scarymommy.com/from-a-lot-to-a-little/, which resonated with me, and speaks to how life has changed for me since I became a mom. The author writes about the transition from extrovert, from freedom, from single life, to parenthood: "To fill my days with these small people, hold them close, keep them safe. To cultivate our corner of this earth. To be central, indispensable to a few rather than a superficial acquaintance to many. To dig deep instead of spread myself thin."
As I prepare for our next baby, I have already made this transition. Before I met Scott, and to a large extent, until I had Julia, being a good friend was central to my identity. I had a lot of friends. I loved my role as "the one" friends called when they needed to talk. And while I still cherish friendships, my availability, both in terms of time and in terms of mental energy, has changed. I've lost touch with some friends, which I think is partly due to Julia, and partly due to their careers becoming more demanding, due to more time passing since our single, carefree days. My closest friendships are with a few other moms, some near, some far, with whom I text about potty training, Daniel Tiger, recommendations for baby products. I see a couple of them every couple of months. One friend, who lives across the country, I have seen just twice since our kids were born, and yet I still consider her one of my closest friends.
In spite of my hollow promises to myself and to my friends to "stay the same person" after Julia was born, that hasn't happened, nor would I have wanted it to. The moment Julia was born, I became someone new. Still myself, yes, but I never could have imagined what it would be like to have another person completely dependent on me, to have another person whose needs came before mine, every time, without question. Julia was adamantly anti-bottle (a preview of what was to come: anti-solid foods...anti-potty training), and for a full year, I barely left her, nor did I want to. I'm sure this garnered criticisms from some friends, but I also know that I did what I wanted to do, what I needed to do, during what I can now recognize as a fleeting time. My world has become smaller, certainly, but it's the small details of parenthood that seem to mean the most.
I'm not saying that I think having this next baby is going to be easy. But it does feel very, very different this time around. I know what it's like to wake up with a jolt after our first stretch of sleeping six hours and reach over to make sure the baby's still breathing. I know the glow of my phone in the middle of the night as I Google "what does croup sound like?" and then drive to the emergency room. I know the happy hours with friends while I attempt to nurse a fussy baby, only to come home and collapse in relief on the couch. I know the nights of take out and wine that feel more luxurious than our fanciest dinner out. And I know that all phases-- the best and the hardest--will end, and give way to what's next.